Report Card: The Goals are Back in Town

Saturday night at BC Place, the Vancouver Whitecaps broke their goal-scoring drought (and ended their shutout streak) against Minnesota United, taking away all three points by a final score of 3-2.

Despite a scruffy start for the home side, overall, Vancouver played some very good attacking football in this match. Impressively, they showed far more diversity in their chance creation than we had seen for the last several matches. In particular, Ryan Gauld and Pedro Vite were notably active which was a sight for sore eyes, especially after the pair of attacking mids were missing in action for the last couple of weeks.

While there were plenty of positives, one could also point to Vancouver’s failure to make adjustments in the latter stages of each half. While the Whitecaps were easily the better team on Saturday night, they allowed Minnesota to stay alive with some defensive errors, and as such, were only a couple bounces away from dropping even more points on their home turf. All things considered though, this was a big step in the right direction for a Whitecaps team who’s results need to start matching up with their positive play.

Ok, on to player grades as always.

Yohei Takaoka (6.0) – I won’t be quite as harsh as Paul Dolan and say that the Japanese keeper was fully at fault for the opening Loons goal, but obviously you would like your keeper to rise up and claim that ball. It looked to me like Takaoka was anticipating Blackmon winning the header and when that didn’t happen, the scramble ensued. While not having to make many saves, Takaoka was very good with the ball at his feet in this one.

Javain Brown (6.0) – Especially after making the defensive substitution in the second half, the Whitecaps had their wires crossed a couple times at the back, and most of those occurred on Brown’s side of the pitch. Overall though, it was a decent bounce back showing from the Jamaican.

Ranko Veselinovic (6.5) – In typical Ranko fashion, he had a very strong match marred by one or two tough moments defensively. I’m not sure I can explain his positioning on the second Minnesota goal, but obviously something did not go according to plan. It was nice to see his offensive efforts in the air awarded with an assist.

Tristan Blackmon (7.0) – Blackmon has looked like the best Whitecaps defender this season and that continued Saturday. While not perfect, Blackmon continues to be confident and decisive in 1v1s and with crosses into the box.

Luis Martins (6.0) -The Portuguese defender played two or three really nice balls into the box in this match which was good to see, especially given that his offensive contributions have been less notable recently. The problem with Martins is that he does very little other than cross the ball.

Andres Cubas (7.0) – The Paraguayan did a nice job making life difficult for the Loons’ midfield five in this match. Overall, that group really struggled to play through Cubas outside of the young Korean, Jeong. Cubas also made some great outlet passes to launch the Whitecaps in attack.

Julian Gressel (7.0) – This might have been a quiet match on the ball by Gressel standards, but I thought he really put in a shift defensively, sticking a foot in when necessary to break up Minnesota possession. Given his quality, I would love Gressel to take more shots from the edge of the box when the opportunity presents itself.

Alessandro Schopf (6.5) – Especially in the opening half, I really liked the way Schopf combined with Pedro Vite down the left side for Vancouver. They are both very comfortable with the ball at their feet, and they look for through-balls and cutbacks where often others would only look for an early cross. While the motor is not there for the Austrian just yet, it is encouraging to have Schopf back in the fold.

Pedro Vite (7.0) – I was worried after the last match that Vite might not get another look on Saturday, but it was good to see him back up Sartini’s faith with one of his best performances of the season. When rolling, Vite really offers a different dimension to the Whitecaps attack and creates space and stretches defences with his dribbling and passing. It would be nice to see Vite have a little more killer instinct on the end of chances, but I think this will only come with a consistent run of games for the youngster, like it did at the end of last year.

Ryan Gauld (7.0) – The Scotsman’s best match of the season so far was not just about his assist, but it had a lot to do with the fact that he just looked a lot more like himself: maintaining possession under pressure, winning fouls, pressing without the ball, being clinical on the counter-attack, etc. A bit like Gressel, it would be good to see Gauld look for his own shot a bit more often, but this showing was a huge step in the right direction for Gauld to be the player we all know he’s capable of being.

Brian White (7.0) – Somehow, two goals for Brian White in this match felt like the bare minimum he was capable of, all in 55 minutes of play. The story is a familiar one, White is as good as anyone in the league at being in the right place at the right time, but the finishing, for the volume of chances he creates for himself, is not always there. Slowly but surely though, White is closing in on his xG totals in an attempt to prove the haters wrong and vindicate the idea that the Whitecaps don’t need a new striker in order to be successful.

Substitutes – I don’t have anything profound or groundbreaking to say about the sub performances. Simon Becher continues to be an absolute poacher in limited minutes and might make life difficult for Sergio Cordova if he’s not careful. Bringing on Laborda to go five at the back appeared to create more confusion than it did anything else. Raposo and Teibert, I assume, will get starts midweek against York in the Canadian Championship.

Vanni Sartini (6.0) – As with my assessment thus far, the Whitecaps made some nice tweaks offensively but struggled to adjust at the end of each half, and did not do a very good job controlling proceedings as they tried to close out the match. Sartini does have midweek cup play to think about, so I’ll give him a bit of a pass in this one. Overall, it still feels like coaching is a bit of a hindrance rather than additive to this team’s play.

Alright, those were my thoughts on the match. It was a solid showing where no one stood out miles above the rest and no one was particularly poor either. While not great for punditry, I think this is a really good sign for Vancouver going forward, who can hopefully take care of business in the cup and start to vault themselves up the league table over this busy upcoming stretch.

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

(Image Credit: Shotbug Press)

10 thoughts on “Report Card: The Goals are Back in Town

  1. I still can’t believe:

    A) We got three goals from strikers. When was the last time that happened, outside of the MTL game. At least in MLS. Off the top of my head, I want to say Camilo IMHO, but I might be skipping a Montero brace + strike partner/sub goal.

    B) Our goalie has a subpar game (by the lofty standards he set this season), and we still won. Again, when was the last time that happened in MLS

    C) We are arguing about the surplus of good midfielders and forwards and who didn’t make the starting 11. And Teibert wasn’t even in the discussion. Again, when was the last time we had this sort of depth? Defence is a different issue, but even there we have good depth with Laborda (CB/RB) or Raposo being able to step in as starters without a drop in quality (and arguably an increase in quality depending on who they are replacing)

    D) I’ve seen us score 8 MLS goals in the last two home games I’ve gone too. Again, when was the last time we did that? *9 goals if you count the own goal on Saturday 😉

  2. Same. I thought he and Raposo should have started, but given that they are running them out midweek as starters in the Voyageur’s Cup, it makes sense.

    Now Becher I would have started up top with White, and Gauld behind them, dropping Vite from the starting lineup.

    But I also think that Sartini wanted Gauld more involved to try and jumpstart him, so…

  3. Becher’s contract expires at the end of this year. He’s 23, soon to be 24 years old. He doesn’t have any lingering injuries. He’s physically fit, athletic and he scores goals plus the fans love him; something the organization needs. Barring the unexpected, his value will go no where but up. Vanni Sartini and Axel Schuster may not think he should be in the starting XI or whether he should, at least, come on at the beginning of the second half, but others are watching him. Count on it.

  4. Regarding Becher, I don’t think you realize that coming on as a sub has its advantages over starting. Having said that, Becher needs to get at least 30 minutes per game. I’m confident with that amount of time he’d score a goal a game. I just don’t think he’d have the same impact as a starter

  5. should have read this way:

    6. Javain Brown- 4.5- he ‘falls asleep’ at crucial times and allows opposing strikers to get terrific chances – it happens every game –

    7. Our starting Mid-field- our strength– all get a 7.0- nice to see schopf back, but i still believe that Ahmed brings more to the table- a rotation to keep the 4 players fresh and energetic would work well — its a long season and the ‘wheels’ do get tired

  6. some loose nails in my head:

    1. Vanni Sartini- head coach- 5.0– his unusual and mystifying subbing of teibert and raposo almost undid a win that was in the pocket- simply put, MLS long ago bypassed Russell; and raposo has moments where you think he has finally arrived as the leftback and then undoes it all with poor performances (his rushing up the field with a few minutes to go to try and get a goal almost cost us a goal as Minnie came back with only – GULP- teibert on the left side- talk about a bad decision)

    2. when Vanni decides you are in the starting line-up, you get to start game-after-game– vite, white , brown are often players who need a time-out; and if Vanni decides you are glued to the bench, thats the way it will be– ahmed, laborda and becher are prime examples, yet they all deserve starts on a regular basis

    anyone who thinks white and/or cordova will get us the goals we need to be a contender are not looking at the evidence- its just hopeful thinking- i have more trust and hope in Simon Becher- the way he connected with ryan gauld on his goal is exactly what an instinctive striker should do – simon curved around behind gauld to receive a beautiful soft touch from Ryan’s left boot – the best goal of the night

    3. Goalie, Takaoka- 6.5- should have done much better on the Loons first goal, but made up with several very good saves and get us 3 points

    4. Vite- 5.5- i have lost hope that pedro will be the player we thought we were getting- he teases us with his potential, but plays soft– when he pulled back his head from a diving header for an easy goal, it showed just how uncommitted he really is

    5. Brian white- 6.0- he finally cashed-in with 2 goals- so many chances, so many misses all season long- he just cant think quick enough when chances come – but this was his best game this season

    PS we do need a new striker and becher should be an automatic starter- i mean 4 goals with limited minutes over 5 games– what is Vanni thinking by making him a late sub !!?? and why do fans/media support white over becher !!??

    6. Javain Brown- 4.5- he ‘falls asleep’ at crucial times and allows opposing strikers to get terrific chances – it happens every game – all 4 are worthy starters- schopf, ahmed, gressel, cubas– a rotation to keep players fresh and energetic — its a long season and the wheels do get tired

    7. Our starting Mid-field- our strength– all get a 7.0- nice to see schopf back, but i still believe that Ahmed brings more to the table

    8. Tristan Blackmon- POTM- 7.5– steady, dependable, plays smart, the leader on defence and a threat on set pieces- MVP this year, alongwith Takaoka

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